See you in September?
Assessing options for roster additions
Starting Thursday, major league teams are allowed to expand their rosters by calling up minor leaguers who are on the 40-man roster. For the Red Sox, myriad factors will play into this decision.
First will be meeting the immediate needs of the major league team. Bullpen depth or an extra player on the bench could make a difference in winning a game down the stretch.
Nearly as important is determining what impact a promotion will have on a prospect’s development. For some players, spending a few weeks in the big leagues can serve as a reward for a good season or an opportunity to hone their skills, if only before games. Others aren’t quite ready, or deserving, of that.
The final factor is making sure those minor league affiliates in postseason play can field competitive teams. This season, that would affect Pawtucket, which is headed for the International League playoffs.
“We’ll call up what we need,’’ said Sox manager Terry Francona. “We’re not going to call everybody up on Sept. 1. If something happened, we could get somebody the next day. But we’re not going to call everybody up.’’
With the Sox seeking the division title, Francona does not want a clubhouse full of young players just taking up space.
“It’s a balancing act always in September,’’ he said. “You see teams that are out of it calling up a boatload of guys. But right now we have a job to do and probably don’t want guys just sitting around.
“There are some guys who deserve to be rewarded for their years, so that’s where you’re walking a fine line.’’
Here’s a look at which players the Sox could add:
LIKELY ON THE WAY
Scott Atchison: The veteran reliever has pitched in 52 games for the Sox over the last two seasons, only nine this season. He has performed well for Pawtucket, posting an 0.95 WHIP and striking out 69 over 58 innings with just eight walks.
Felix Doubront: It has been a disappointing season for the 23-year-old lefthander, who has been limited to 74 innings by injuries. The PawSox have used him as a starter with mixed results (1-5, 4.43 ERA). Lefties have hit him well in Triple A, not a good sign for his ability to make a difference as a reliever this season. But because he is lefthanded, Doubront likely gets a chance.
Drew Sutton: The 28-year-old utility player was called up three times by the Red Sox this season, hitting .315 with seven doubles over 54 at-bats. He made multiple appearances at all four infield spots, as well as left field. He’s the kind of player who is good to have available just in case.
Junichi Tazawa: He certainly deserves a shot, having shown steady improvement after coming back from Tommy John surgery. The 25-year-old righthander started the season with Single A Salem and worked his way up through Double A Portland and finally to Pawtucket. He has allowed two runs in 11 1/3 innings for Pawtucket while striking out 15 with one walk.
Lars Anderson: He was nearly traded to Oakland for Rich Harden July 31. Anderson has had a decent season in Pawtucket (.261 with a .784 OPS), but the first baseman would lack for opportunity if called up on Thursday.
Michael Bowden: He has become a viable reliever, posting a 2.44 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 40 appearances for Pawtucket. The righthander has struck out 61 over 51 2/3 innings and dominated righthanded hitters. The Sox called him up three times and he pitched well in six appearances, giving up one run over seven innings.
Jose Iglesias: He has started to swing the bat a little better of late, so sticking with Pawtucket through the end of the playoffs could make sense. But even with his recent progress, the shortstop is hitting .227 with a .274 OBP and only seven extra-base hits in 322 at-bats. He could be helpful as a defensive replacement and pinch runner.
Kyle Weiland: The Sox liked what they saw from the righthander when he made two starts for them in July, and having him around as a just-in-case starter or even out of the bullpen would be helpful. Weiland has 119 strikeouts in 116 1/3 innings for Pawtucket.
Luis Exposito: The Sox will have a third catcher on Sept. 1. If Ryan Lavarnway is still on the major league roster, it will be him. If he is sent back to Pawtucket to get playing time, Exposito could be called up. His status as a prospect is fading after a mediocre offensive season. But Exposito has experience with the Sox staff from spring training.
NOT THIS YEAR
Ryan Kalish: He is on the Pawtucket disabled list with a strained muscle on his left side. Injuries have made this a lost season for a player who appeared on the verge of establishing himself as a solid big leaguer in 2010.
Stolmy Pimentel: The big righthander was invited to spring training and was considered one of the organization’s top prospects. But the season has been a disaster. Pimentel is 3-13 with a 7.10 ERA in 23 starts, opening the season in Portland before being demoted to Salem. He has been a little better of late.
Oscar Tejada: The athletic 21-year-old was challenged with an assignment to Double A Portland. He has hit .253 with a .302 on-base and a .339 slugging. There’s a lot of promise there, but the infielder has many steps to take before being ready for the majors.
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@PeteAbe.